Indonesian/Essential words and easy words

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This might be a useful resource for teachers, or someone designing a course. The ideal way to introduce these words would be through examples; the very easy words can be introduced incidentally, without requesting the student to memorize it. This encourages the student, by giving them something they can discover and understand without it being spelled out.

Essential words[edit]

These are very common words - learn these early on and it will make understanding and learning easier.

Indonesian English Suggested association
sudah already Indonesian has no "tense" - words such as sudah and belum are used instead.
belum not yet
lagi again; (happening) now
ada there is; present

Easy words[edit]

Indonesian English Notes
sarung sarong (sarong is the Malaysian form)
nama name
orang person Orang hutan ("orang utan" in English) means forest person.
hutan forest Orang hutan ("orang utan" in English) means forest person.
bir beer
matahari sun Heard of the famous spy Mata Hari? She took her name from Malay.
mata eye mata hari means eye of the day
hari day mata hari means eye of the day
lampu lamp or light
kecap soy sauce
sekolah school
nasional national Indonesian has many words which have come from Dutch - some are very similar to the English equivalents.
kulkas refrigerator Sounds like "cool case". Another Dutch word.
bakteria bacteria Many medical and scientific words are similar to the English word - with practice, you can often guess them.
guru teacher Any teacher is a "guru" - so a school teacher is a guru sekolah. One of dozens or hundreds of Sanskrit words.
mantra Magical prayer, for example by a dukun (shaman) from Sanskrit

Speakers of other languages[edit]

If the learner speaks:

  • Portuguese (or Spanish),
  • Dutch (or Flemish)
  • Sanskrit (or Hindi or Urdu)
  • Chinese (Mandarin? Hokkien?), or
  • Arabic

then they can find some words they might recognize at Wikipedia:List of loan words in Indonesian.

If you do yoga and know some Sanskrit terms, you may recognize some words such as:

  • "gajah" meaning elephant
  • "surya" meaning sun

See also[edit]